Book Review: Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training, by Tom Jokinen

Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
by Tom Jokinen
Da Capo Press
279 pages

There are so many puns I could start this review with, but let’s just say this: Curtains is one hell of a drop dead hilarious book. 

It really is a book to die for.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s true.  This is an incredibly well-written, funny and heartfelt memoir of Tom Jokinen’s internship as an undertaker-in-training with a Winnipeg funeral services provider. 

With sharp writing and wicked funny wit, Tom takes us for a tour of the crematoriums (the machines are Retort 1 and Retort 2), gives some tips of the trade, and shines a spotlight on that time that we would rather not think about – the time between “removal” (picking up a body at a hospital or retirement community) and the actual funeral.  Now that Tom has written Curtains, what happens in  the embalming room no longer stays in the embalming room.

Now, granted, you have to have a certain kind of morbid curiosity and a non-squeamish nature to consider picking up such a book.  Fortunately, as your reviewer of Curtains, I am all about the dead.  I honestly do think that, in another life, the funeral business might have been an apropos line of work for me.  I’ve mentioned before how I read the obituaries every day and how I have funeral instructions (i.e., what songs should be played, etc.) prepared.  I am still in mourning that HBO ended “Six Feet Under.”

I come by this attitude naturally, I think; my dad died when I was 15, so I’ve kind of always grown up with the belief that, to quote Carly Simon, “death is only a horizon” and that our loved ones are always with us and we’ll see them again.  So while I certainly hope to be here for a long, long time, the knowledge that I will die someday isn’t something that freaks me out. 

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!